Partner Twitter Spaces #1: Huobi x TON
On September 5th at 09:00 (UTC), Steve Yun, a founding member of the TON Foundation, and spokesperson of Huobi held an energetic AMA session on Twitter Spaces for an hour. Below is the transcript. For the full audio recording see here.
Huobi: Could you give us a very short and simple direction of what exactly TON is and is it proof of work, proof of stake, a little bit more into the tech, and what's the point of it?
Steve Yun: TON is a layer 1 proof of stake blockchain. The main issue that we are trying to solve is scalability. TON has sharding that is already implemented inside, so it's quite scalable horizontally and vertically. Another thing is user friendliness. The biggest obstacle for users to access decentralized apps is the difficulty and the fear surrounding how to operate a proper wallet because there's so much news in the world saying somebody lost in the seed phrase or the access to the wallet and so on. Most people are quite scared of operating a wallet and this is where TON focuses on partnering with social media platforms and becomes very critical and strategic.
Huobi: I think that the number one problem in crypto is getting new people and they always feel like a little agony towards that perspective and you know it. It is a very big problem that needs to be solved.
Steve Yun: At the same time, even though wallets are becoming easier and easier to use, one still has to download a standalone wallet in order to access centralized products and oftentimes it requires a desktop and a Chrome extension which users usage is quite decreasing significantly in favor of mobile adoption. And what we enable to do is we have a partnership with telegram to integrate a wallet TON wallet inside the attachments menu of telegram messenger. This way, peers can transfer, receive, and buy and sell Toncoin directly within the Telegram messenger in their attachments menu without having to download another app. This is a very unique use case and through this we are going to make this wallet open for third party developers and this I believe will really open the Pandora box because most of the developers that we speak with on a daily basis are quite concerned about the user experience. Especially surrounding the whole, downloading a new app and so on. Many projects are looking forward to utilizing the tools available at TON to make their depth even more user friendly to use.
Huobi: What would you see as your competitive advantage over other layer one blockchains such as Solana or Near protocol? Because they're really focused on sort of the same things such as fast in transactions and scalability. Can you share what you guys think is your differentiator point between you guys and Solana and Near?
Steve Yun: I think it is the user friendliness aspect of our services and products that we're building. The wallet is explained for example. We also have exposure to a lot of users through what's called Telegram ad platform. We can reach a lot of Telegram users through this tool and we currently have about 2.5 million users across nine different languages, and we really consider community building seriously. We also have very qualified translators for English, Turkish, Indonesian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and so on.
Another aspect is creating unique use cases. So one problem in crypto is that before the NFT, there was a lack of digital goods or services that one can purchase with the cryptocurrency and NFT changed a lot of that. ICO was also a great use case but that remains more for investment purposes and recently, telegram founder Pavel Durov announced that telegram themselves will be building on top of TON, creating both bulletproof smart contracts and services on Ton.
Two specific examples are: one is DNS, so telegram as you know has a user what's called username or handles We call them domains for the sake of simplicity and Telegram announced that they will tokenize domains and make them tradeable. And also there are short handles. Right now the shortest handle on Telegram is 5 letters, but the shorter ones, for example three or four letter handles, will now become purchasable through a process called auction and also become tradeable. This type of massive use case is really something that the crypto industry I think was craving for and I think in the next few months we will truly see some use cases like this come to reality.
And I can go on and on about many other use cases, unique use cases that we have. One is that today we can make Telegram channels into a paid subscription channel. Currently, creators have much difficulty monetising their channels and what they usually do is to do advertisements inside their channel. But what if there is an even more clear way for content creators to be supported by their community and today they can use bots called @donate and basically make their channel into a premium channel where each user has to pay a subscription fee in Toncoin. This achieved a lot of adoption in the Eastern Europe and we plan to push a lot of these great use cases in different languages and countries.
Huobi: You said that Eastern Europe is where they had it most of the users. Can people do that no matter where they live? Is it or is it just rolled out slowly, depending on the country?
Steve Yun: It's open for everybody, but people in some parts of the world are much more sophisticated and the rate of adoption is incredible.
Huobi: It seems to be a really good use case for making this happen in a very easy gamification way. Let's move on to some killer dapps. You talked about, you know, NFT marketplaces, such as Getgems, Disintar, and launchpad TON Starter. Can you tell us a little bit more about these two killer dapps?
Steve Yun: Getgems is the largest NFT marketplace in TON today, and what's really unique about them, the whole NFT market and ecosystem in TON, I can start with the ecosystem itself. There is a lot of difficulty in purchasing NFTs about user friendliness, but the way pre-sales of NFTs were conducted in TON actually was very impressive in the sense that one can purchase NFTs in the presale form of NFTs within the telegram messenger through the bots that many content creators create without leaving the telegram messenger at all. It makes a lot of the people convenient when purchasing NFT for their first time, purchasing any cryptocurrency or any crypto related product. What's unique here is that with Getgems, they have a very close integration with the wallet in the ecosystem and it makes interacting with NFTs easier than any other ecosystem today.
Huobi: We have a question from the community about the NFT marketplace. He wants to know since you said that anyone can mint an NFTs and use the TON token, is this only ever going to be open to other tokens or is it always just going to be TON?
Steve Yun: For now, it will just be Toncoin because Ton is a scalable product and a platform that is decentralized and stable. It's a product that we can really trust. We are working hard on creating bridges. There are several very competitive companies creating bridges. We have the Community working community of developers working on creating standards for important smart contracts. We will see a lot of other different tokens being imported to the TON in the near future.
Huobi: Recently there were a lot of security issues, and hopefully you guys have a security plan to make sure that they're set up correctly because that's one thing we always get questions about bridges recently due to all the security incidents happening.
Steve Yun: I understand that having auditors who audit our code will not completely eliminate the risk of hacks in bridges especially. But we are engaged with Certik and Trail of Bits who are auditing not only the service layer, but also the very core component of the TON blockchain, including the consensus mechanism and the node itself. We are doing everything that one can to prevent these things from happening, but I think that the most important part here is the participation of community developers.
We need people to use these products and to find bugs, to participate in bug bounty and so on. So if you are a developer I really encourage you to get involved. We have a great community of people working together towards a common vision and we can help you be comfortable and get boarded in our ecosystem.
Huobi: And as far as the bug bounty, where can they find the information?
Steve Yun: It's available on ton.org.
Huobi: I wanted to talk more about the founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov. There's been a lot of recent things he's been saying about the TON blockchain. Can you share anything about what he said about TON?
Steve Yun: First of all, Telegram is one of the largest messengers and social media in the world. Other than Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, Telegram is the largest and they recently announced that they have 700 million monthly active users. There are many analysts who project that telegram may reach 1 to 3 billion monthly active users at this rate in the next few years. It's very important for TON to have Telegram as a strategic partner, and we were very excited to receive public support from Telegram at the beginning of this year, I believe. One other thing that I have not yet mentioned is that telegram is going to also tokenize sticker packs. The sticker packs that we see here today on Telegram messenger that they are all for free but it will be tokenized. Which means that the ownership of such digital sticker packs can now belong to somebody. It will be a new revolutionary way to express oneself online. It will basically be like a NFT but what that can do to the whole ecosystem is that the designers, who are working on creating these sticker packs, have a difficulty in monetising and so this could be one of the greatest solutions to building and enabling the designers ecosystem for designers. The announcement was made a couple weeks ago and it will be realized in the near future.
Huobi: Durov also mentioned about bulletproof smart contracts and services on the TON blockchain. Can you tell us more about what that exactly means?
Steve Yun: The TON, because it is layer one blockchain, you can also use its own programming language called FunC, the fork of C++, but specialized towards building smart contracts based on blockchain. Telegram was the one to invent this language from the beginning. For Telegram to be building smart contracts, to open source them, and to make it available for all the developers to learn from will be beneficial to the growth of the whole ecosystem. From what’s publicly announced one could expect and imagine the smart contracts related to Tokenizing digital goods, also maybe trading, making those goods tradable, smart contracts related to potentially marketplaces and so on will probably be one of the most immediate ones that one could probably expect, but this is just my own speculation based on normal course of business.
Huobi: What are you guys doing to attract the serious developers as far as in the Community? Are you guys attending any events? Can they meet up with the team to talk to you about you know development?
Steve Yun: One of the most important things, TON foundation and members of TON Foundation are willing to sit down with competitive players in each category of the products. Let's say a DEX or NFT marketplace or wallet. We are happy to sit down with them to draft together a proposal for the community to host an open competition where one can claim a relatively large amount of rewards. Once and if they achieve certain KPIs, so for example, we had such proposals to the Community regarding DEFI ecosystem.
So when a certain number of TVL, total value locked, is achieved on time and in their taxes, they are eligible to receive X amount of Toncoin. You know this is an open competition for a fair and open for everybody to participate, but we are very much keen to speak with very competitive companies and founders to draft such policies so that they can come into our ecosystem and build the product achieve, give meaningful adoption and to get rewarded.
Also, we will be sponsoring and hosting site events at major conferences, starting with the token 29 in Singapore in September and also Token 2049 in London in November. We will be hosting some side events and will be sponsoring some parties so anyone interested in TON can come speak to all the members of the foundation and we would love to engage with everybody to build this ecosystem together.
Huobi: Can you tell us about, like once the TON gets listed on Huobi on September 7th, do you guys have any big marketing ideas or any campaigns you can share that's going to be on Huobi?
Steve Yun: We have allocated a budget of 1,000,000 Toncoin and there will be the usual candy drop which is a little bit more sophisticated than air drops. There will be trading competition, but most importantly there will be a new earning product on Huobi based on net buy, one can basically stake tokens to earn anywhere between 70% per year to about 300% per year. In order to be eligible to stake once tokens, one has to have a net buy position at Huobi. What that means is that if I purchase 10 Toncoin in Huobi and sell 5, I have a net position of five Toncoin, so I will be able to stake 5 tokens. If I purchase 1,000 Toncoin on Huobi and sell 100, then I am eligible to stake 900 tokens. Keep in mind that the number of tokens that will be the personal quota for each programme will be quite limited because this is geared towards welcoming as many people as possible to come into TON and because TON is required to access the great apps that we have.
Huobi: So basically what it is is you just buy $100 in any coin. You could buy $100 in TON tomorrow and do that for three days. And then you just click on a new listing on the Huobi app and it takes you to all the candy drops. You just click join and then you're automatically registered to get a lucky draw of tokens. And it's pretty simple.Check it out on the Huobi app under the new listing.
When the tokens are on Telegram wallet, do they have to do anything like KYC or do anything to be able to enter the tokens in or is it pretty simple and they don't? It's just a simple wall like a mobile wallet is. Can you share any more details about how that works?
Steve Yun: It’s a very simple mobile wallet and does not need KYC but it is not available for US residents or phone numbers.
What is TON’s vision for five years, like if you could say something in five years, what do you think the project or the token will be doing?
Steve Yun: Our ultimate vision is to really achieve mass adoption and at this moment in the history of crypto, the evolution of crypto, the most important issues to solve right now are scalability and user friendliness. If we achieve this through all the things that we discussed and much more than what we have discussed today, then I think there will be next challenges, which is achieving sufficient decentralization and remaining censorship resistant. Because a lot of the new blockchains are proof of stake, and I think there are many ways that basically makes the blockchain quite susceptible to censorship, and that is something I think the industry as a whole will have to think about for three to five years.
Does the team have any plans to hook up a partnership with other messaging platforms? For example, swap tokens or partnerships, is that something that you consider in the future or are there any other big partnerships coming up in the next couple of months that you guys could share?
Steve Yun: We believe the TON is definitely bigger than Telegram itself and Telegram is one of the most important partners anyone can have. The ambition of TON goes beyond and we are very much looking forward to partnering with other companies as well. We are dramatically expanding our BD team to make this happen. If you are a talented person and passionate and you share the same vision with us, we are always open to speaking with you and working together with you to achieve these things.
When would you ever consider doing an airdrop to a lot of the Telegram users that are already there to get the token more knowledgeable to the people who may not know about the blockchain or TON? Is that something that you would ever consider doing? Like an AirDrop to a lot of the Telegram users?
Steve Yun: There are announcements from time to time posted on @toncoin on Telegram in different languages.
Would you consider, if there's too much supply, burning the token? Any token to decrease the tokenomics supply? Or is that something that you would never consider?
Steve Yun: TON, as of today, has about 0.6% inflation per year and this 0.6% goes to basically all the validators that are staking and validating the network. We recently introduced a first burning mechanism on TON in conjunction with DNS. So when a domain on TON is first sold through an auction that was used to purchase that domain, it is sent to a smart contract where it will be frozen there permanently, and it will be basically burnt. As of today, we already have millions of Toncoin that are frozen. And if you look at the whole Internet Web 2, how many domains there are in the world, you won't be able to calculate that the supply of Toncoin may become quite scarce if TON really does achieve mass adoption in the Web 3 space. We really hope to achieve method adoption and we really hope that DNS will help support the ecosystem.
Any big news that you can share coming up, like any that hasn't been announced? Anything that you can share that's not been released?
Steve Yun: Many of them have already been announced. If you are interested in TON, I would say one should pay attention to the products that we deliver because we understand though, you know, big partnerships and so on are quite important and very exciting. But at the same time, not many of them really get materialized if you really watch you know closely. I hope that in one year one and a few years from today, we will be able to proudly say, you know, talk about things that we have achieved and not only have announced.
What's your goal for global adoption, as you say, to make it more global? Is there anything you can say that you can do to help build the recognition for TON token and the blockchain?
Steve Yun: First of all, there is open competition that I discussed earlier, which is borderless. Anyone can participate in anywhere from anywhere in the world. That will basically incentivise many qualifying developers to come in and build on our ecosystem. That's the first thing, and the second thing is that we will be traveling. A lot of members of TON Foundation will be traveling to many different parts of the world to possibly all the major conferences in the next few years. We'll be there sponsoring, and we will be there to meet you if you're there.
Are you a Bitcoin person or Ethereum person? Which one would you pick?
Steve Yun: First of all, I would like to see all blockchains flourish. But if I have to pick, it will be Bitcoin, as it is a very sophisticated digital gold.
Thank you and I would love to invite everybody to participate in our ecosystem. I think blockchains cannot function the way it was originally designed to unless it has a participation from people. It's almost exactly the same analogy actually as democracy requires participation of people and I think Blockchain is exactly the same case. One may be a developer, a retail user, an investor, or an ambassador. But whoever and whatever contribution one can make to any blockchain in the world, I would encourage you to contribute to the adoption of blockchain one way or the other. Thank you.